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2018 NHL Entry Draft: Notable Dallas Stars Targets For Rounds 4-7

With enough hard work and a little bit of luck, hidden gems can be found in every round of the draft

Moose Jaw Warriors v Edmonton Oil Kings Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Draft week is finally upon us. By this point, after weeks (and months) of widespread coverage, you’re probably sick and tired of reading about Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov and many other prospects who are projected to go in the 1st round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

However, every year the draft goes far, far beyond just the opening round. Sure, the later the draft goes, the less likely that any of the players picked will go on to long, successful NHL careers. That doesn’t mean, though, that none of them do.

Like clockwork, each and every draft sees prospects who get selected in the 5th, 6th or 7th rounds that, down the road, eventually become impactful NHLers. Some of these late picks even become franchise-changing superstars. With former 5th rounders Jamie Benn and John Klingberg, Dallas Stars fans already know a little something about that.

Make no mistake, there is always talent to be uncovered deep in the weeds of the NHL draft. It just takes a little more work to find it and a little more time to develop it. All picks, even up to the very last one in the draft’s 7th round, should always be considered as a true, legitimate chance to find future NHL talent.

Over the past week I’ve written about prospects who would be great fits for the Dallas Stars in the 2nd round and in the 3rd round. Today, I’ll cover rounds 4-7, all in one fell swoop. The Stars have two selections in the 4th round and one each in the 5th, 6th and 7th, the overall numbers of which are also listed.

Why were these particular players chosen for this spotlight? The Dallas Stars currently have the following needs in their prospect system that should be priorities to address in this draft:

  • Centers who can reliably produce offense and drive possession
  • Pass-first, playmaking forwards who specialize on the power play
  • Right-shot defensemen who can kill penalties and drive possession

While the concept of drafting the “best player available” is a popular one, determining just who that player is at any given pick gets harder and harder the further along the draft goes. By the time you reach these rounds, unless there are players still available who are unquestionably a clear cut above the rest, drafting for need is often the best course of action.

For a better idea of which prospects the Stars currently have in their system, feel free to check out the most recent edition of Defending Big D’s Prospect Rankings, from back in March.

Important note: these views are entirely my own. They have been developed through personal scouting, research, and analysis of the team’s prospect pool. I have no firsthand or insider knowledge about which players the Stars are actually targeting for these picks.

While there’s no guarantee that any of these upcoming players will still be available at these picks (the draft is always full of surprises), they have ultimately been chosen based on an accumulation of various rankings and recent league-wide draft trends that suggest a high likelihood that they will still be around. It should also be mentioned that high-ranked players who unexpectedly slide down the draft board should be heavily considered in this spot as well, but we won’t know who they are (if anyone) until the picks start going through.

This is a long article, so let’s dig in now, shall we?

Round 4 — 100th and 106th Overall

Justin Almeida — Center — Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

The Warriors were a dominant offensive team this year, and after some early skepticism from scouts Almeida proved that he was a key part of that success, not just a passenger. His biggest test will come in 2018-19 as many of his teammates are graduating, leaving him to be the key cog.

Xavier Bouchard — Defense — Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Bouchard was a very highly regarded prospect heading into this season after picking up 34 points in 63 games last year as a 16-year-old, but his sophomore campaign was a major struggle. Playing on an awful team didn’t help. Has the size and tools to be a project worth undertaking.

Ruslan Iskhakov — Right Wing — Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

Iskhakov owns one of the quickest, softest sets of hands in the entire draft, but he’s also one of the shortest members of this class, making him a big wildcard. However, the Stars don’t have any prospects who specialize in the areas he does, so he’d be a worthwhile gamble for the team.

Joey Keane — Defense — Barrie Colts (OHL)

Ranked as both the Most Improved Player and Best Defensive Defenseman in the Eastern Conference in this year’s OHL Coach’s Poll, Keane took incredible strides in his development after getting passed over last draft. Impressive blend of mobility, smarts and puck movement.

Kristian Reichel — Center — Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

A prospect who I actually wrote about in this exact same kind of article before the 2016 draft, Reichel took some time for his development to take off, but it’s sure in full flight now. Has intriguing pro upside because of his speed and how much of an impact he makes in all three zones.

Round 5 — 137th Overall

Connor Corcoran — Defense — Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Corcoran isn’t the type of defender who often jumps out at you when he’s on the ice, but his blend of size and skating allow him to be effective. Already plays a lot of minutes on a young Windsor club. Needs time and work, but projects to be a possession-driving blueliner in the NHL.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev — Center — Peterborough Petes (OHL)

A fun player to watch when he’s driving the play, Der-Arguchintsev is creative with the puck and makes difficult passes look easy. Loves to take a wide stance on his skates and carry the puck east to west in the offensive zone while his mates get into position. Foot speed needs to improve.

Nikolai Kovalenko — Right Wing — Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

A feisty, puck-hungry winger, Kovalenko plays with a lot of energy and passion. Goes into the dirty areas to create offense even if he’s giving up inches and pounds on defenders. More than just a hard worker, the son of former NHLer Andrei Kovalenko can also make his linemates better.

Billy Moskal — Center — London Knights (OHL)

Like teammate Liam Foudy, Moskal’s game took on another dimension after London traded away many of their veteran forwards and he earned a bigger role. A reliable pivot who can do a bit of everything. Has been a scorer at every level coming up, so his future point totals could follow suit.

Jack St. Ivany — Defense — Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Yet another undrafted returnee, St. Ivany is an ideal development project. Showed a ton more confidence and proficiency with the puck this season. Tall and skinny, he has a lot of room to add muscle, and will get plenty of time in the NCAA to do just that. Top 4 upside is a possibility.

Round 6 — 168th Overall

Brendan Budy — Center — Langley Rivermen (BCHL)

Budy was named Langley’s captain when he was still just 17, which says a lot about his character. An undersized, pass-first pivot who led his team in scoring with 56 points in 49 games. Committed to a powerhouse NCAA program at the University of Denver, which should help his development.

Mathias Laferriere — Center — Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)

A playmaking forward who does his best work on the man-advantage. Still a little too skinny, but he is 6’1” so there is room to pack on some muscle over time. Needs to shoot the puck more often. Will play an important role going forward on a young and rebuilding Screaming Eagles team.

Tristen Nielsen — Left Wing — Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

A spitfire who models his game after Brad Marchand, Nielsen is the type of player you love to have on your team but hate to play against. With an excellent hockey IQ and one of the best motors in the draft, he generates a ridiculous amount of offensive chances and makes a serious impact.

Karel Plasek — Right Wing — HC Prerov (Czech2)

Plasek started his draft season with a strong performance at the Ivan Hlinka and then bookended it with a good performance at the U18s, while also playing a lot of professional hockey in the Czech Republic in between. A skinny goal-scoring winger who possesses breakaway speed.

Jerry Turkulainen — Left Wing — JYP (Liiga)

Turkulainen only measures in at roughly 5’7” and 170 pounds, so there’s no doubt that his size is a big risk factor. But the league is more accessible for small players than ever before, and his agility will help him get out of a lot of troublesome situations. Picked up 33 points in 52 Liiga games.

Round 7 — 199th Overall

Einar Emanuelsson — Right Wing — Lulea (SHL)

A scrawny, undersized winger who can really fly, Emanuelsson got good exposure this season playing on the same line as Isac Lundestrom. Very light on his feet and can make impressive skill plays at full speed. A late bloomer, he put up 26 points in 45 SHL games as a 20-year-old.

Zachary Emond — Goaltender — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

The Stars don’t especially need goalie prospects at the moment, but it doesn’t hurt to take one every draft. Emond is huge and has pretty quick reflexes, a good foundation for goalie coaches to work with. He had a couple of wins this season for the Huskies where he made over 40 saves.

Damien Giroux — Center — Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

A heart-and-soul forward who played some of this past year as a #1 center at just 17 years of age. 33 of his 43 points came at even strength. Saginaw is a young team, so Giroux should get a lot of ice time over the next two seasons. Size and skating are issues, but his puck skills are impressive.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard — Left Wing — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

Harvey-Pinard is a shifty forward who can make some dynamic, high-end plays when the puck is on his stick. Passed over last draft, he led Rouyn-Noranda in scoring this year with 76 points in 67 games. Very dangerous on the powerplay. Needs to get a step quicker for being just 5’9”.

Owen Lalonde — Defense — Guelph Storm (OHL)

A former 2nd overall pick in the OHL draft, Lalonde has had a tough couple of seasons playing for two different bad teams. Despite a hefty drop in his stock, he still owns good mobility and a decent frame. Has some long-term potential to become a two-way, third-pair blueliner in the NHL.